- Tuesday, January 18 1994 -
Kentucky - 57 (Head Coach: Rick Pitino) - [Ranked 7th by AP]
Florida - 59 (Head Coach: Lon Kruger) - [Unranked]
Halftime Score: Florida 24, Kentucky 21
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|Tennessee 93 - 74|||||Mississippi State 86 - 70|
Game Writeup - Courtesy of Dr. Jeffrey Neil Burch; Dr. J's UK Newsletter, Vol. 3 No. 20. (All Rights Reserved)
Ugly Ugly Ugly Ugly Ugly:
"ugly" - that's the only word to describe the incredibly awful game played last night by the Gators and Wildcats.
Florida already had a 10-4 lead by the time ESPN joined the game (the Purdue-Indiana contest went into overtime). Travis Ford apparently had been in a minor collision with one of the Gator players, but he looked all right for the rest of the game. UK pulled to within 13-11 when both teams went absolutely flat. A mind boggling exhibition of poor passing, turnovers, fouls, missed layups, and stupid shots dominated for the next several minutes. Florida went 6.5 minutes without scoring, and UK went 7 minutes.
Tony Delk hit a 3 pointer to give UK a 16-15 lead with 4.5 minutes left in the first half, but Florida came right back and took the lead again. Rodrick Rhodes on several occasions refused to work inside, but went back to his outside 3 point shooting, which was not effective. When he finally decided to make an inside move, he was rewarded with a pretty basket. Tony Delk also struggled from 3 point range, whereas Florida made several of their in the first half.
UK rebounded exceedingly poorly in this contest, worse than even the Georgia game. Florida players constantly hustled or jumped, whereas Kentuckians either sat around watching or they mistimed their leaps. Both teams were ice cold in the first half - Florida made only 33% of their field goals, and Kentucky hit a mere 28% of theirs. The halftime score was 24-21 Florida, the lowest such for both teams in many years. Florida, which had hit all 27 free throw attempts (to set an SEC record) in their game the week before against Tennessee, managed only 1-4 near the end of the first half.
A McCarty basket on a Martinez pass opened the second half. Florida tried the same play, but McCarty broke it up defensively. The score was soon tied at 24 when sloppy UK passing allowed Florida to get a 28-24 advantage. Owing to poor Wildcat defense, Florida was given many wide open 3 point shot opportunities, but fortunately for UK the Gators didn't make many of them. Kentucky continued to rebound poorly and they dropped many balls which they had snagged, which Florida gratefully picked up. Andre Riddick got his 4th foul early in the second half, reducing Kentucky's already depleted inside ranks.
Florida stormed to a 7 point lead, and had several series where they had 5 or 6 attempts at a basket on the same possession, before finally scoring or UK got the ball. They quickly built a 12-4 advantage in rebounding in the second half. Travis Ford didn't score until about 6 minutes had gone by in the second half! UK's defense improved somewhat, and Kentucky cut the Florida lead to 33-31. Largely due to improved rebounding, Kentucky forged out to a 35-33 lead, then they staged a mini- run. A spectacular spin shot by Rhodes, two Martinez free throws, and single free throws by Rhodes and Delk (who airballed his second) allowed Kentucky to build to a 41-35 lead.
Martinez picked up his 4th (unnecessary) foul at about the 10 minute mark of the half, further impairing Kentucky's post prospects. But after a very long 3 pointer by Ford and a Sheppard rebounding basket, UK led by 7, their largest lead of the night, with 6 minutes left in the game. UK had 4 shots at the basket on a Rhodes breakaway attempt, but couldn't convert and Florida got the rebound. Florida started off just abysmally in the second half (hitting 3 of 22 field goals for 14% shooting, at one point). Then they began to steadily chip away at UK's lead. UK reverted to its former poor rebounding/blocking out form, and Ford's 3 point shooting became absolutely atrocious.
Martinez was set to take a charge by DeClerq, but the officials somehow called it a blocking foul and DeClerq hit his free throw to allow Florida to take a 50-49 lead. The lead oscillated between the teams for a few minutes, then Florida took the lead for good on a Cross 3 point shot over Travis Ford. Bad shooting and fouling allowed Florida to hold this lead at the 40 second mark in the game. Ford was fouled with 9 seconds left in the contest, and was put in the unenviable position of having to hit his first and deliberately miss his second free throw. He made the first, and McCarty actually got his hands on the ball (somewhat) after the deliberate miss, but couldn't gain control of it well enough to do anything more than shove the ball towards the basket, and that was the game. UK lost 59-57.
[JNB note - I hate to say it, but this was probably the single worst overall performance that I have ever seen from the Cats in over 21 years of watching them. Kentucky in recent years has never been a dominating rebounding team, but this year the players don't seem to want to block out or work for a carom at all. Ball handling and passing seemed to reach all-time lows in this one, and the poor shooting was somewhat reminiscent of the 1984 loss to Georgetown in the Final Four.]